Tripping: How to Prepare For a Psychedelic Experience
Psychedelics are substances that can create hallucinogenic effects that result in a change in perception, cognitive function, and mood, generally referred to as tripping. Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, has been studied in recent years to improve our understanding of the potential therapeutic benefits.
In Canada, there are currently 16 people—doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals—who were provided with an exemption to use psilocybin with their patients, focusing on end-of-life care. Several organizations across Canada, like TheraPsil in Victoria, BC, continue to advocate for its legal use. These organizations recommend psilocybin be used in conjunction with therapy due to the opening up it can facilitate. Therapy can also support integration of the experience into your life. In the cases where a mental health professional isn’t involved, it’s still important to prepare before tripping to get the most out of the psychedelic experience.
Tripping on psychedelics can result in significant changes to perception that can be overwhelming, especially to the first-time user. Some may have heard of others’ negative experiences with psychedelics and feel apprehensive. It’s normal to feel some nerves.
Others are looking for ways in which they can get the most out of the psychedelic experience. Preparation can help to both optimize the psychedelic experience and help to prevent a ‘bad trip.’
We always recommend preparing, especially for a first-time experience or when adjusting doses. While microdosing aims to take sub-perceptible amounts of a psychedelic substance, like psilocybin, and avoid tripping, that does not mean you won’t experience anything. Emotions still may come up that you’re unprepared for.
It can also be challenging to determine the best dose for microdosing accurately. This can result in experiencing more psychoactive impact than you originally anticipated. If you’re new to microdosing, take the time to consider the best dose to start at and if you’re nervous, er on the side of caution and take slightly less the first time. You can always increase the dose slowly over several hours or several days. Note, if you’re increasing your dose the same day, ensure to wait at least 45 minutes to 1 hour before increasing. Also, take your first dose on a day with no other obligations.
There are several things to consider before participating in a psychedelic experience to help you make the most of it.
Set and Setting
Consider Your Mindset
Mindset is a crucial aspect of tripping and can affect the psychedelic experience. It’s essential to take the time to prepare your mindset in a way that makes you feel calm and confident going into the experience. Yes, there still may be some nervousness due to not fully knowing what to expect, but understand that powerful emotions may arise, and the goal is to learn from these, not to become overwhelmed by them. If concerns about the experience continue to emerge, it may be helpful to talk to someone who has experience with psychedelics.
Remember that no matter what happens, the experience will end, so enjoy the ride.
During the day leading up to the experience, engage in activities that will help bring you calm and take the time to set your intentions for the experience.
Take the time to consider your intentions and what you hope to gain from tripping. Doing so can help you go into the experience feeling prepared and help you to get the most benefit from the psychedelic experience.
Here are some questions to ask yourself that may help consider and set intentions for a psychedelic experience:
- What are your preconceptions about tripping and psychedelic experiences?
- What do you expect to occur during the trip?
- What do you hope to learn? Experience? Understand? Resolve?
- What are your goals? Do you have spiritual goals? Psychological goals? Social goals?
Consider Your Dose
After you’ve taken the time to determine your intentions, use this to consider the best dose for you. Your goals can help determine whether or not you want to take a full psychedelic dose or would prefer to microdose.
Ensure that you take time into account when determining your dose. Allow yourself enough time to prepare for the experience, 4 to 6 hours for the experience, and time for integration.
Set Your Setting Before Tripping
The setting in which you consume psychedelics is important in facilitating a positive experience when tripping. While the ideal environment can vary for different individuals, there are a few things to consider when picking the setting.
- It should be a familiar environment where you feel safe and comfortable.
- Have easy access to water for drinking and a bathroom.
- Have access to comfort items like blankets and pillows and a place where you can lay down.
It can also be helpful to consider the ambient sounds and other external stimuli. This could include choosing calm and soothing music; for many people, this is classical music or something else without lyrics and removing any potential interruptions.
Consider a Trip Sitter
Those engaging in a full psychedelic experience, particularly for the first time, may want to have a trip sitter. In some settings, this may be a trained psychedelic-assisted therapist or other trained professional. Otherwise, it can be a trusted friend who is sober and there to support you while you’re tripping. Ideally, they have experience with psychedelics, but that isn’t required.
After a psychedelic experience, it’s important to take the time to integrate the things you’ve experienced or learned into your life. Some people like to visit a regular mental health professional after to unpack the emotions that came up, while others engage in a journaling practice.
Remember that tripping is named as such because it is a journey: it may be weird, challenging, or overwhelming at times, but you’re along for the ride, so don’t fight the experience. Allow it to flow and know that no matter what happens, it will end.
Psychedelics can be healing and therapeutic. Taking the time to prepare before tripping can help you get the most from the psychedelic experience and decrease the likelihood of a negative outcome. Take the time to prepare your mindset and your setting, and don’t forget to allow time for integration.
To gain an understanding from first-hand users on their tripping experiences, see our 50 quotes on psychedelics.